Breakthrough in negotiations with large publishing houses

Publish an open access article in "Clinical Immunology" or "Journal of Materials Science"? Thanks to new agreements between universities and publishers, this is now free of charge for Swiss researchers.

The Swiss academic libraries and swissuniversities have been negotiating with the three biggest publishing houses Elsevier, Springer Nature and Wiley since 2018. The SNSF joined the negotiating team in 2020. The aim of the higher education institutions was to bring the existing agreements into line with the National Strategy on Open Access.

A new milestone

The negotiators recently achieved a major breakthrough. From now on, the agreements with Elsevier and Springer Nature will not only regulate reading access to publications - they will also cover the publication of open access articles in more than 4000 journals. "This means no costs and less work for researchers, which is a massive relief," says Matthias Egger, President of the National Research Council of the SNSF. "It will make it much easier for researchers to get their work published in an open access format." Researchers and students will also continue to have access to the publishers' existing content.

The higher education institutions will not spend more than they have been spending until now, rather they will receive an additional service for the same money. The publishers will extend their range of services, in line with the growing demand for open access publication.

Yves Flückiger, head of the negotiating team and the president of swissuniversities, is very satisfied with the breakthrough: "The agreements are a milestone on the road to 100 per cent open access." Negotiations with Wiley are still under way.

Pay for services only

The agreements last till the end of 2022 with Springer Nature, and the end of 2023 with Elsevier. The next steps towards making open access the new normal will then be due. The long-term goal is to pay solely for the publishers' services for new publications - not for access to knowledge generated by publicly funded research. "These new agreements show that the higher education institutions are ready, willing and able to make a concerted effort to advance open access," Matthias Egger said.

Read and publish

"Read & Publish” agreements extend the hitherto customary agreements between higher education institutions and publishing houses to include open access publications. On the one hand, researchers and students get free reading access to the publishers' content. On the other hand, researchers can make their journal articles openly accessible from the outset. The journals to which the new rules apply are specified in the agreements.